: Terror Vs State Terror
“Sri Lankan security forces rounded up children to be recruited by the Karuna faction” – Mr Allan Rock, Special Adviser to the U.N. Secretary General's Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict.
I. Recruitment of child soldiers by the Sri Lankan army
The complicity of the Sri Lankan security forces in the recruitment of children by the Karuna group in the Northern and Eastern parts of
On 13 November 2006, Mr Allan Rock announced that a section of the armed forces have been actively aiding and abetting the Karuna group in recruiting child soldiers after abductions from the Government-controlled areas of the East, particularly in Batticaloa district, to fight the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE). Children as old as 13 and 14 years were being kidnapped from villages but no arrests or investigations were being carried out by the government. Mr Rock claimed that his findings were based on “eye-witness evidence”.
These revelations are nothing new. The Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission (SLMM) earlier confirmed incidents of abduction of children from nearby security camps in government-controlled areas using unnumbered vehicles. As the Sri Lankan authorities accuse the SLMM of partiality whenever it suits them, the imprimatur of the United Nations was indispensable. The Karuna group has been
II. LTTE and Karuna group's responsibility
The recruitment of child soldiers is a war crime as per the statute of International Criminal Court.
Both the Karuna faction and the LTTE reportedly assured Mr. Rock that they will immediately start working with UNICEF to stop child recruitment and release all the child soldiers. The LTTE reportedly assured to work with the UNICEF “with the objective of completing that process by
In 2003, the LTTE had agreed with both UNICEF and the Sri Lankan government to release all child fighters and allow them to be kept in rehabilitation centers, where they could receive care and counseling to help them rejoin society. But as Mr Rock reported, “The mission's initial findings reveal that the LTTE has not complied with its commitments under the Action Plan to stop child recruitment and release all the children within their ranks. Under-age recruitment continues and the LTTE have yet to release several hundred children as verified by UNICEF”.
Rather the recruitment of child soldiers only intensified with the increase in hostilities.
Since May 2006, 135 cases of under-age recruitment after abduction by the armed opposition groups have been reported to the UNICEF.
According to UNICEF, as of
III. No respect for international humanitarian laws
The Sri Lankan government has unleashed State terrorism since the collapse of the Geneva talks of February 2006 between the LTTE and the government.
The Sri Lankan government has been accused of targeting the LTTE symphatisers. On
The Sri Lankan security forces have also been targeting the civilians. On
IV. Terror Vs State Terror
President Mahinda Rajapakse while rejecting the findings of Mr. Allan Rock announced an “immediate and thorough investigation” into the allegations and “hold accountable those who are responsible” if the allegations are proved correct.
The Rome Statute of International Criminal Court identifies “conscripting or enlisting children under the age of fifteen years into armed forces or groups or using them to participate actively in hostilities” as a war crime. Sri Lanka is a fit case to be referred to the ICC for investigation into the violations of the Rome Statute. A special committee cannot address blatant violations of war crimes committed by all the parties in the conflict.